Public Sector Innovation

Governments and government institutions around the world face unprecedented challenges. Public officials face job, housing and revenue losses on top of the still daunting list of previous problems, including health care costs, global warming, crumbling infrastructure, terrorism and immigration issues.

Now more than ever, government and its institutions need to embrace innovative approaches to daunting problems. The reason for this being; existing practices will not suffice. To any hope of success, they must embrace innovation as a core discipline, becoming adept at adopting new practices. Innovation must become part of the public sector DNA.

A number of concrete insights are offered in William Eggers and Shalabah Singh’s Innovation manual authored with linkage to Harvard Kennedy School and they prove invaluable to those public officials seeking to apply innovate solutions to unprecedented problems. As pointed out, innovation can and does occur in the public sector. Too often, however, the public sector fails to actively promote innovation- a shortcoming the innovation manual can help rectify.

Governments and their institutions can make a difference in the lives of citizens only by regaining their trust.

Government and the public sector in general can develop and sustain a culture of innovation. Innovation is a discipline, just like Strategy, Planing or budgeting. Like these disciplines, sustained innovation requires a methodical view of the innovation process, a view that links the mission to organizational structure, processes and reward systems.

The problem that exists is that results not enough public sector organizations accord the innovation process the sort of thoughtful, sustained attention in merits. Typically, innovation in public sector happens in two ways. Either innovation intrudes itself on an organization in response to a crisis, or some individual (or small group of individuals) champions a specific innovation. In either instance, the benefits of the innovation are limited. Once the crisis has passed or certain individuals responsible for the innovation have moved on, the organization is left with no lasting capacity for ongoing innovation.

The journey towards Innovation is not easy. As things stand today, few public sector entities exhibit a widespread organizational commitment to innovation…more


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